Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holiday Gift Guide: Non-Fiction

Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker by Stacy A. Cordery (Viking) 608 pages
Brash but beautiful, an assiduous rules-breaker known for smoking in public and speaking her mind, Alice Longworth, the oldest child of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, turned a desire to gain her father’s attention into a determination to influence politicians for most of the 20th century. She wed a Republican congressman from Ohio, who went on to become Speaker of the House and cheat on their marriage (which led Alice to bear a child with renowned Senator William Borah of Idaho). A great one for cross-party manipulations, she did her damnedest to undermine Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations and denounced her cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. But she later ditched the GOP and voted for John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, only to go on and encourage Richard Nixon’s second run for the presidency. A vigorous gossip, Alice Longworth was famous for the adage, “If you haven’t anything nice to say, come sit by me.” Cordery captures her in all her defiant finery. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Alone Against the Arctic by Anthony Dalton (Heritage House) 192 pages
At times during Alone Against the Arctic you can’t help but wonder what the hell author Anthony Dalton thinks he’s doing. “All around me, in and out of the mist, the frigid grey Bering Sea heaved and rolled with the storm .... The wind shrieked and moaned its displeasure at my presence. Audacity jerked viciously from right to left and back again, making it difficult for me to stay upright.” And just in case you’re imagining some grown-up sized boat, think again: Audacity was the four-metre long open speedboat Dalton had chosen to attempt a solo transit of the Northwest Passage. The journey was a near fatal adventure and Dalton describes it wonderfully in Alone Against the Arctic. As close as I’d want to being there. -- Aaron Blanton

America in Space: NASA’s First Fifty Years foreword by Neil Armstrong (Abrams) 351 pages
America in Space sweeps you away. This is one of those large format coffee table books that never fail to make booklovers drool. In this case, some of that book envy (or appreciation, in the case of a gift) will be coming from space enthusiasts. Published in collaboration with NASA, this is the real deal, a book quite worthy of launching NASA’s 50 year anniversary celebration that began this fall. Here we have the story of the American space program, told in part by 480 photographs -- many of them previously unpublished -- directly from NASA’s archives. As befits a NASA co-production, the story is told chronologically and though it seems a bit arrogant to start chapter one with the words “In the beginning,” it does describe that starting point in the darkness of the cold war. The book concludes, appropriately enough, on some super two-page spread reproductions of photographs taken with the aid of the Hubble telescope. Since most of us have only ever seen these on Web pages or small in magazines, it’s a real treat -- and entirely germane to the subject matter -- to include them here. An amazing book and an absolute must for anyone with a strong interest in the American space program. -- David Middleton

The Associates: How Four Capitalists Created California by Richard Rayner (W.W. Norton/Atlas & Company) 224 pages
In the history of American business, few men have exercised the power that Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Charles Crocker and Mark Hopkins -- the “Big Four,” as they were known, amid cheers and sneers -- did in the 19th century. Once middle-class store owners in Sacramento, California, they reached national prominence by constructing the western portion of the first transcontinental railroad. That transportation link ended the West’s pioneer era and left the Bear State with a genial arrogance regarding its place in history (“California Annexes the United States,” read placards carried through San Francisco after the last spike was driven in 1869) that persists to this day. It also provoked the Big Four to extremes and deceit in order to sustain their influence. L.A. novelist Rayner (The Cloud Sketcher) recounts the lives and legacies of these robber barons in often droll detail. -- J. Kingston Pierce

A Little Fruitcake: A Childhood in Holidays by David Valdes Greenwood
Those who loved the youthful recollections in David SedarisMe Talk Pretty One Day will cotton to David Valdes Greenwood’s A Little Fruitcake. Valdes Greenwood is a little less nasty than Sedaris, and he finds more in the world to warm the heart, nevertheless he manages to find a somewhat similar stance: to plunk us down in the middle of a somewhat familiar scene and look at it from a new and different angle. As the title suggests, A Little Fruitcake is strongly holiday flavored, Valdes Greenwood manages to look at the ordinary and with humor, wit and a knack for finding the spot that makes us human. “But then again,” Valdes Greenwood writes at one point, “what family is really ‘just another family’? The dramas that play out between people who love each other, the histories between the holidays, are specific.” Exactly right. Exactly so. And yet, Valdes Greenwood’s talent is such that in sharing his memories, we often see ourselves. -- Aaron Blanton

The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption by Barbara Bisantz Raymond (Carroll & Graf) 320 pages
Over a period of almost three decades (from the 1920s to 1950) Georgia Tann, operating a Memphis, Tennessee-based children’s home, sold some 5,000 infants she had taken from poor single mothers -- by means legal and not -- to wealthy clients, including actress Joan Crawford, falsifying birth certificates to cover her tracks. Tann argued that the kids were better off, though some were put to work as cheap labor on farms. While her scheme helped to popularize adoption, it also tarnished the procedure. Raymond not only recounts Tann’s activities, but explores how crooked politics and the dearth of options open to women in the early 20th century helped this black-market operation to thrive. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Bird Songs from Around the World by Les Beletsky (Raincoast Books) 368 pages
Strictly speaking, Bird Songs from Around the World is probably slightly less useful than its predecessor, 2006’s Bird Songs: 250 North American Birds in Song. Where that book could, presumably, be used as something of a field guide (as in, “Honey, was that an Ocellated Turkey we saw today?” “I dunno, dear. Let’s listen to the book and find out.”) you are less likely to find yourself in a situation where you need to know exactly what a bird from Africa and one from Australia sound like on the same day. Still, “need” is seldom the bottom line when it comes to books. Bird Songs from Around the World is well written and illustrated, it’s interesting and -- because of that crazy voice box with bird sounds supplied by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology -- it’s even kinda fun.

Boom!: Voices of the Sixties by Tom Brokaw (Random House, 663 pages)
Tom Brokaw’s fourth book promises to be as big a seller as all of his previous works, including 1998’s The Greatest Generation. In some ways, that book could be the parent to this one. Both are wide-ranging social histories and both break things down to era-defined specifics. It’s an interesting way of doing things and Brokaw does it oh so well. But where that book dealt with people of an age to have fought in WWII, as the title suggests Boom! brings us the subtitle Voices of the Sixties. And what voices! Think about it: The space race, the cold war, Vietnam, Woodstock, Women’s Lib, as Brokaw says at one point, “The Sixties were a time when the nerve endings of the body politic were constantly stimulated with new sensations, but it was also a time of mindless fantasy, groundless arrogance, spiritual awareness, callow youth, and misguided elders.” The journey Brokaw takes us on is complete, a reunion for those who were there, a historic overview for those who were not. But since this is Tom Brokaw, still one of the most respected journalists in the United States, he manages to tie what we learned and what we should have learned in the 1960s to the present and the future. “The Sixties realigned both political parties, and the great questions for 2008 will be “Is this the end of the Sixties for the Democrats? And will the Republicans find a new champion...?” A complete look at a fascinating era. It’s sure to be on many holiday lists this year.

C.C. Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America by Geoff Williams (Rodale Press) 328 pages
Endurance contests (dance marathons, flagpole sitting, etc.) were very popular in America during the 1920s, but none was so audacious or potentially grueling as the Los Angeles-to-New York foot race organized by fast-talking sports promoter C.C. Pyle in the year before the Great Depression struck. Enticed by a $25,000 prize, 199 runners lined up at the starting gate; a remarkable 85 made it to Madison Square Garden (a distance of 3,423.5 miles) almost three months later. Williams is swift off his mark with commentary about this race’s era and the wrenching miles ahead of the racers, and finishes strong with personality studies of Pyle and the contest’s longshot winner, part-Cherokee Andy Payne. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Come to Think of It: Notes on the Turn of the Millennium by Daniel Schorr (Viking) 400 pages
Recruited to CBS News in the 1950s by Edward R. Murrow, named on Richard Nixon’s “enemies list,” and threatened with imprisonment after he released to the public a damaging report about CIA corruption, Daniel Schorr -- now 91 years old and the senior news analyst at National Public Radio -- is legendary in U.S. journalism circles. He brings his extraordinary knowledge of history and history-makers (he’s covered 12 presidents so far) to this collection of piercing commentaries about everything from international affairs and national health care, to executive privilege battles and the Supreme Court “junta” that installed George W. Bush in the Oval Office in 2000. A fascinating primer on American politics of the last quarter-century. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s by Lauren Kessler (Viking) 272 pages
The author had long endured a very difficult relationship with her mother. But after watching Alzheimer’s disease first turn her parent into a stranger in her own life, and then steal away that life, Kessler, who heads up the University of Oregon’s graduate program in literary non-fiction, decided the way to assuage her guilt was to sign on as a caregiver at an Alzheimer’s facility. She wasn’t surprised by the humbling labor or sense of powerlessness attendant to this job; what she hadn’t expected, however, were the humor and humanity that end-of-life care would expose. Unsentimental, yet warmed by the characters of the patients and the underpaid attendants struggling to keep them comfortable, Dancing with Rose shows just how much life can still be enjoyed by those with so little of it left. -- J. Kingston Pierce

The Dead Guy Interviews: Conversations with 45 of the Most Accomplished, Notorious, and Deceased Personalities in History by Michael A. Stusser (Penguin Books) 394 pages
Michael Stusser’s a funny guy. He was apparently born that way, and hasn’t grown out of it. Which is kinda good, because otherwise this book probably wouldn’t exist. The concept of the “dead guy interviews” began in Mental Floss, the bimonthly magazine of humorous trivia, but eventually grew beyond that, because ... well, it’s just such a damn fine idea. As Stusser is quoted in a news release about this volume: “You know that question, ‘If you could have dinner with anybody in all of history, who would it be?’ Well, I decided to meet them all.” In a manner of speaking, anyway. Stusser’s “conversations” with the voluble dead are executed for entertainment, of course, and he makes the most of them, chatting up Catherine the Great on the subject of her sex life, asking Frida Kahlo whether she ever considered getting an eyebrow waxing, and fielding death threats from J. Edgar Hoover as he inquires about the former FBI honcho’s cross-dressing proclivities. There are 45 interviews here altogether, including those with Cleopatra, Crazy Horse, Salvador Dali, Mae West, Harry Houdini, and Abraham Lincoln. And while they’re cleverly done, they are also -- get this! -- educational. So many of today’s readers avoid learning about history, but this paperback actually makes the subject enjoyable, as Edgar Allan Poe talks about the absence of copyright protections in his day, Thomas Jefferson explains the early development of America’s political parties, and Henry VIII recounts the reasons he did away with his various wives. “In the end,” Stusser writes in his introduction, “I learned more from these masters than I ever did in school.” Readers of The Dead Guy Interviews are at risk of realizing the same thing. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations by David. R. Montgomery (University of California Press) 295 pages
While much has been written about factory and auto emissions polluting our air, and how greenhouse gases are causing icecaps to melt and polar bears to suffer, fewer alarms have sounded about threats to the earth’s most basic resource: dirt. Yet it, too, is being depleted by overuse, argues University of Washington professor Montgomery. He digs through a fascinating mix of human and archaeological history to show how societies have risen and collapsed based on the quality and care of what's right beneath their feet. Montgomery also makes the case that, without conservation strategies, today’s agricultural methods will one day make it impossible for the land to keep feeding the world’s population. -- J. Kingston Pierce

East Wind Melts The Ice: A Memoir through the Seasons by Liza Dalby, Un
iversity of California Press 2007
Dalby, best known as the “American Geisha,” continues her fascination with Japanese culture in this exquisite book. Part memoir, part almanac, part gardener’s journal, part meditation on American and Asian cultures, this book hasn’t received the attention it so richly deserves. East Wind began with Dalby’s study of the Chinese Almanac as it was adapted by the Japanese: a measure of calendrical time divided into 72 five-day periods. Each five-day increment is named. “East Wind Melts the Ice” indicates the first breath of Spring. It’s deeply associated with an aspect of Japanese natural life: lunar cycles, the appearances of birds, fish, flora and fauna. The Japanese have a name for a book like this: a saijiki: “‘a year’s journal’ entwining personal experiences, natural phenomena, and seasonal categories.” Until Dalby’s work, we had no such entity in English, what she calls “seventy-two separate windows into a life lived between two cultures.” Moving meditatively across time and place, East Wind beautifully conveys a richness of tone, a call to observation of the natural world often lost in a culture overcome by technological efficacy. From the swallow haiku (March 22-26) to the Freesia in Dalby’s Berkeley’s garden, we are shown the world in a way many of us are forgetting, had we ever known it. A bonus is the book itself, a beautiful object clothbound, celadon, with a cover detail of Mayumi Oda’s “Garden in Rain.” You need not even wrap it, though you are best advised to purchase more than one, lest you cannot bear to part with it. -- Diane Leach

Enchanted Isles: The Southern Gulf Islands
by David A.E. Spalding, photography by Kevin Oke (Harbour Publishing) 144 pages
Spalding and Oke chronicle and celebrate a special part of the world -- the magical islands nestled between the southern most part of mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. And they do it in a way that hasn’t been done before. The southern Gulf Islands are up there as one of the most popular destinations in the region. These two long time Gulf Islanders are the perfect duo to present this area, from the most populated island, Saltspring, with 12,000 residents, to tiny unpopulated D’Arcy almost straddling the American/Canadian border. Spalding’s unusual textual treatment is as layered and unexpected as the islands themselves. Coffee table books like this are usually read; this one you experience. Somehow the flavour has gone into the mix along with the ingredients; how did they do that? The people, the places and the history all visually unfold on the page. A stunning gift book or to grace your own coffeetable. -- Cherie Thiessen

The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800 by Jay Winik (HarperCollins) 688 pages
Six years after the publication of his incisive Civil War study, 1865: The Month That Saved America, Winik turns his clear, detail-oriented vision to America’s diapered days, an era of interlocking world conflicts. George Washington sought to protect the United States’ future by normalizing trade relations with Britain. France was riven by a revolution that would lead to Napoleon Bonaparte’s European hostilities. Russia was riding high after its victory in the Russo-Turkish War, and the first U.S. clash with an Islamic power -- the piratical Barbary States of Northern Africa -- was about to explode. With a dramatist’s skill, Winik re-creates this broad canvas of ideological disputes, allowing its major players -- Thomas Jefferson, Catherine the Great, revolutionist Maximilien Robespierre, and more -- to command the stage. Compelling history, indeed. -- J. Kingston Pierce

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gates Gill (Gotham Books) 272 pages
An unusual tale from the barista trenches: Gill, the 63-year-old son of legendary New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, is accustomed to high social status and a six-figure income at a major Manhattan advertising agency. But within a short period, he loses his job and his wife, and is diagnosed with a brain tumor. Lacking health insurance, he goes to work at Starbucks. Turns out, it’s the best thing for him, curbing his sense of entitlement, teaching him to appreciate hard work, and giving him a mentor in the form of an African-American who helps him achieve self-confidence he never had before. All of that’s here, plus an inside look at Seattle’s best-known company. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer by Bill Gifford (Harcourt) 352 pages
Eighteenth-century explorer John Ledyard packed more adventure into his 38 years than most men do in lifetimes twice that long. Connecticut-born, he ditched college to sail the Atlantic as a common seamen, jumped ship in England, and joined Captain James Cook on his voyage to the South Pacific, Hawaii and North America’s west coast. He partnered with John Paul Jones in the fur trade, began a hike across Russia that was also supposed to carry him on to North America (but he was arrested and deported by Catherine the Great), and persuaded U.S. President Thomas Jefferson to launch the Lewis and Clark Expedition. By the time Ledyard died, while planning a traversal of northern Africa, he was famous. Gifford hopes to rescue him from modern obscurity by re-creating Ledyard’s voyages, along the way filling out the dimensions of this storied “American Traveler” with anecdotes about his chivalry, his curiosity regarding indigenous peoples and his lustful appetites. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Life: The Most Notorious Crimes in American History: Fifty Fascinating Cases from the Files edited by Robert Sullivan (LIFE Books, 144 pages)
Now, clearly, this is not a book you rush out and buy for your mother-in-law, especially if you don’t know her tastes. But if you have someone on your gift list who adores true crime, Life: The Most Notorious Crimes in American History could well be just the thing. There aren’t many cases here that true crime fans won’t have heard of, but the coverage is remarkable, including as it does photographs and other material from the LIFE magazine archives. The book is broken into four sections, with crimes organized by type: passion, politics, profit and pointless mayhem. (I wonder if they had to struggle to make them all begin with “P”?) And so we have the deaths of Sid and Nancy, the Patty Hearst saga, the Son of Sam, Ted Bundy, the killing of John Lennon, Enron, the murder of Laci Peterson and the Bath School Disaster of 1926. And a lot more: 50 in total. All in all, though it’s carefully organized and well produced, The Most Notorious Crimes in American History is a disturbing book. Which, I guess, is pretty much the point.

1920: The Year of the Six Presidents by David Pietrusza (Carroll & Graf) 544 pages
Only with hindsight does the significance of the 1920 U.S. presidential election become clear. No fewer than half a dozen men who had, or would, occupy the White House were eyeing the race: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover and Theodore Roosevelt. It was also the first campaign with newsreel coverage, and the first since women had won the right to vote. With a storyteller’s eye for characters and drama, Pietrusza re-creates America at a post-World War I turning point, when it wanted steady leadership, but got scandal instead. -- J. Kingston Pierce

The New Photography Manual: The Complete Guide ot Film and Digital Cameras and Techniques by Steve Bavister, Lee Frost, Rod Lawton, Andrew Fleetwood, Patrick Hook (Chronicle Books) 256 pages
The New Photography Manual almost doesn’t need a review: the subtitle covers the bases so completely. Nor does that subtitle exaggerate: this really is the complete book on where photography is right now, with full consideration to digital photography, how it works and how it can work for you, as well as more than lip service to classic analogue photography and the places where new and old intersect. (Lighting, supports and so on.) The book is complete enough that it would serve the photographer who is only now moving into digital as well as the keen amateur. Well organized, lucidly written and beautifully illustrated, The New Photography Manual provides either a great foundation to the new photographer’s library or a super addition for someone who already has a serious interest in photography. -- David Middleton

Shaggy Muses by Maureen Adams (Ballantine Books) 297 pages

Elizabeth Barrett Browning promised him her “perpetual society.” Emily Dickenson discussed everything with him, “and his eyes grow meaning, and his shaggy feet keep a slower pace.” Edith Wharton credited hers with helping her to become “a conscious sentient person,” while Emily Brontë’s “Keeper” was her constant companion. Virginia Woolf, meanwhile, used them as metaphor for an affair. “Acquired me, that’s what you did,” she wrote to her love, “like buying a puppy in a shop and leading it away on a string.” It seems that dogs have played a prominent role in the lives of many of our most important women authors. Clinical psychologist and first time author Maureen Adams here chronicles the lives of five of these women through the lens of their affection for and relationship with their canine companions. Even without the doggy connection, Shaggy Muses is a telling look at these important women of letters. The book includes compact biographies of Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickenson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Edith Wharton and Emily Brontë. Written in the shadow of Adams’ loss of one of her own dear canine companions, Shaggy Muses makes a wonderful gift and lasting reference.

Shakespeare Revealed: A Biography by René Weis (McArthur & Co /John Murray)
This is a one-of-a-kind gift. Meticulously researched, this thick publication contains much that is new and some well documented speculation that is even mind-blowing. Weis believes that the Bard’s poetry and plays contain much information about the personal man, and he has been a relentless sleuth in his analysis of Shakespeare’s work and in his detailed archival research to prove his point. Up until now, it hasn’t been all that popular to search for clues about the man in his works, but this author not only believes that they are there, but that Shakespeare wanted them found: “This book aims to ... demonstrate that the plays and poems contain important clues not only to Shakespeare’s inner life but also about real, tangible, external events. A cumulative amount of circumstantial evidence demonstrates beyond doubt that Shakespeare responded in his work to events from his life.” Ergo, Weis constructs a plausible biography that ultimately fully fleshes this sparsely known figure, still one of our greatest playwrights. I wonder if we can invent a new literary term for what Weis has done and call it “literary forensics”? It’s dense. Even with the welcome color plates in the center of the book, this is a slow read. Too much interesting information ensures that it just can’t be skimmed, but -- hey -- that means you’re getting more for your buck. You could also call it the gift that keeps on giving because the recipient of this book is going to feel like the new North American expert, or at the very least impress their friends. -- Cherie Thiessen

Sharks of the Pacific Northwest by Alessandro De Maddalena, Antonella Preti and Tarik Polansky (Harbour Publishing)
Either Sharks of the Pacifc Northwest or Whales & Dolphins of the North American Pacific from the same publisher would make many a budding naturalist/boater/sea lover very happy, especially if they live on the Pacific coast. The latter covers whales, seals and other marine mammals from Mexico to Alaska, whereas Sharks covers those toothy beasts we love to fear, from Oregon to Alaska. The happy owner of either of these guides will need to read just a few pages in order to impress -- or frighten -- friends, and ensure that they get everyone’s attention the next time they’re on the beach or at sea. Did you know there are 18 species of sharks in the Pacific Northwest, for example? Saltwater swimmers or surfers will especially want this book if only to reassure themselves that sharks have better things to do than savage the odd limb or two -- or do they...? Both books are very attractive and show an amazing range of creatures huge and fierce, compact and cuddly (well, almost). Who has ever heard of a pygmy sperm whale or a Ginkgo-toothed Beaked Whale, or the Pacific angelshark? Scads of color photos, and an abundance of interesting details make these compact books the perfect additions to almost any bookshelf. -- Cherie Thiessen

Stealing Lincoln’s Body by Thomas J. Craughwell (Belknap Press) 288 pages
On the night of the 1876 presidential election, a gang of Chicago counterfeiters broke into Abraham Lincoln’s tomb at a cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, intending to steal the body and ransom it back for $200,000 and the release of their imprisoned engraver. As Craughwell recounts this bizarre -- and generally forgotten -- episode, he frames it with entertaining background about 19th-century money forging, embalming, grave robbing and the rise of America’s Secret Service. He also lets us in on the responses to this hijacking of both Lincoln’s wife, Mary, and their son, Robert Todd Lincoln, who decades later would have the body exhumed and reinterred beneath feet-thick concrete. Just in case. -- J. Kingston Pierce

Too Late to Say Goodbye by Ann Rule (Free Press) 456 pages
I’m not going to give you all the gruesome details of Ann Rule’s latest book, Too Late to Say Goodbye. The story here is so convoluted, if a novelist made this stuff up, you’d pitch it against a wall. Since this author’s very first book in 1980, The Stranger Beside Me which dealt quite famously with serial killer Ted Bundy who she did, briefly, actually work beside. Since then, Rule has become the queen of true crime, delivering over 20 books and 1400 articles since 1969. Reviewers have been calling Too Late to Say Goodbye this bestselling author’s finest work yet. I don’t know about that, but I do know I could not look away from this tale of murder and betrayal in Atlanta that is drawn to its conclusion by a twist of fate and coincidence no novelist would dare include. -- Lincoln Cho

The Toothpick: Technology and Culture by Henry Petroski (Alfred A. Knopf) 464 pages
This is at once a volume about cultural evolution and business acumen. Petroski, a civil engineer who has written before about the design of everyday objects (in The Evolution of Useful Things and The Pencil), here looks back to the origins of the toothpick in prehistoric times; how this culinary accessory has become legend (it’s said that Emperor Nero fancied silver toothpicks), religious tool (the Qur’an suggests using toothpicks before praying), and cause of death (American author Sherwood Anderson perished after ingesting a toothpick at a party); and the eventual mass-production of toothpicks. That last enterprise can be credited to Charles Forster, a Maine manufacturer who, after seeing natives in South America clean their teeth with slivers of wood, devised machines capable of whittling huge tree chunks into convenient dental picks. To create demand for his products, Forster hired Harvard students to eat in restaurants, and insist on being given toothpicks afterward. Before long, toothpicks were as common in restaurants as salt shakers. -- J. Kingston Pierce

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